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Marijuana’s Health Risks, Benefits Debated

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Medical marijuana initiatives being considered by the Florida Legislature and federal officials would control the quality and quantity of a drug that can help thousands of sick Floridians, Context Florida columnist Gary J. Stein says. 

Unlike prescription drugs, especially opiates, marijuana wasn’t a cause of overdose deaths in the most recent reporting period, he says.

But Miami-based addiction specialist and blogger Ray Estefania says marijuana can have very negative consequences, in a blog post at Pot is more potent than it was 30 years ago, and can lead to dependency and other drug use, Estefania says.

And Politifact Florida continues to fact-check what legislators say about the medical marijuana amendment headed to the November ballot. This time, they give a “half-true” rating to Senate President Don Gaetz’s claims that doctors won’t be required to write prescriptions and that the drug can be obtained for conditions as insignificant as “a back that needs to be scratched.”

Doctors won’t sign prescriptions for marijuana if the measure passes, but would instead provide “certification” that the patient can benefit from it. That requires a detailed paper trail and identification card issued by the Department of Health, Politifact says.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.